I’m thinking a lot about my students and the struggles some face right now. It’s a monumentally emotional time. I’m pondering how to best support them as they navigate adult problems while sixteen years old.
And I think: how would I have handled these issues at 15? Who were my mentors and guides? What would I have wanted to hear?
Building trust and providing a safe space to learn is at the core, and allows students the freedom and grace to learn, especially as they read critically and experiment in writing.
Along those lines, it’s important for me to maintain a strong relationship with my daughter and hear her heart, ask pointed questions about her time with friends (like the Sadie’s Dance! No vaping, make good choices, be kind!), and discuss what it looks like to live well.
Teens need to be pursued. Many teens cannot reach out for help. They can’t. It’s beyond difficult. Just going to school is all they can do every day. Just being there is a major accomplishment and emotional success.
I can note that and recognize it and cheer them on. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate and crosses into even the most outwardly-stoic of students. Even the ones involved in many leadership roles and soaring academically and surrounded by people.
My sophomores are writing an intensive Research Paper. We’re at the point of shaping their writing and I’m privileged to meet individually for 10-15 minutes and talk about their writing. The rest of the class is peer editing, typing, etc.
Those meetings fill every bit of our 90 minute block, but I look forward to that time to hear their story! They talk of their passion for the subject they’re researching and how much time they’ve devoted to the project. It’s impressive to see previously-apprehensive students now love writing. I’ve encouraged students serious about their endeavor to consider submitting their writing for publication.
They talk about home, social life, dreams, job interviews that week, and deeper-level issues needing guidance. They ask how I’m doing. So sweet!! It’s amazing. I wonder how I can shape my classes to look like this more often. It’s emotionally exhausting, but invigorating, to have an honest conversation about something they have researched, because it’s always about something they love.